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Agent for Arizona Cardinals Tyrann Mathieu expects guaranteed money, despite report

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While the player has seemingly agreed to discretionary drug testing by the team, his financial adviser states that the signing bonus WILL be fully paid.

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

It's the chicken or the egg question.

Would you draft a NFL player knowing there were questionable off-the-field activities and reluctant to pay him market value or should the player expect the scrutiny associated with said off-the-field activities and proceed with lowered expectations?

For the Arizona Cardinals drafting Tyrann Mathieu in the third round, this sounds like someone will be playing chicken.

It started publicly, last night with Peter King's MMQB in which he broke that while GM Steve Keim usually doesn't draft "guys with troubled pasts", he appreciated the "risk to reward" and claims that Mathieu has a "passion for the game that is off the charts". He also added that the club could/will be drug testing the new free safety as possibly frequently, as often as weekly. Supposedly, Mathieu and his agent are on board, and the CBA bylaws permit a club to do random testing on a whim. However, once the former LSU cornerback flunks his first test, which theoretically, could come soon after signing, he falls into the league protected drug program - in which the team's request would be null and void.

But for a player that reportedly failed over ten drug tests during his college career, the Cards' stipulation seems to be a reasonable one. However, according to his representative, Patrick Lawlor, that's not the only sticking point for a possible contract.

Believe it or not, it has to do with the player making money.

According to some public sources, Arizona wants to sparse on the signing bonus (basically, the only guaranteed money a player receives since he can be cut at any time) to hedge their bets if Mathieu has a relapse. While not the first time time this has been done, Kent Somers tweeted this is a club principle. Since the team has had players suspended for substance abuse, such as Chuck Levy and Jamir Miller suspensions in 90s, they have preferred paying signing bonuses in installments. They could do same with Mathieu. His agent disagrees with, calling the idea "ridiculous".

So, the team and the agent seem to playing a game of chicken that will either produce a golden egg or the same on someone's face.